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Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference (Oct. 4)

Oct 4, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY - University of Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham met with members of the media on Monday morning inside the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center. The full press conference can be viewed here, and selected quotes from Coach Whittingham follow.

Returning from a bye last week, Utah (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) resumes Pac-12 Conference play this Saturday, Oct. 9, traveling to USC for a 6 p.m. MT game at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It will be the Utes' first game since the Sept. 26 passing of sophomore Aaron Lowe.

Opening Statement

"The tragic, devastating loss of Aaron Lowe is still weighing heavy on our hearts here in our program. We miss Aaron. A senseless loss. For our team to experience the losses we have in less than a year's period of time with Ty [Jordan] and Aaron has been a challenge. It's been a struggle. But we'll get through it. That's the first thing I want to make sure we address, is how much we miss him. It's just something that is very difficult to go through, obviously.

"In the Washington State game, it was good to get off on the right foot in Pac-12 play a week ago, and get the home victory. Of course, coming off a bye week and heading into USC week, it's a big challenge. I know they've dropped a couple ballgames this year, but they're as talented as they ever are. That's a high level of talent is what they have. We'll have our work cut out for us, it's on the road down in the Coliseum, which has been a brutal place for us to play. We haven't had a lot of success there. We have to prepare and get ready, and move forward which our team is ready to do."
On focusing on football during this current time…

"It's extremely difficult to say the least. Fortunately, we had the bye week last week to regroup, I guess you could say, and come to terms with the tragedy. It's challenging. We've got a lot of football left, and we've got to move forward and carry on."
On what he will remember most about Aaron…

"A lot of the same things I remember about Ty Jordan. A guy that had a smile on his face all the time. He walked into a room and just lit up the room. The same comments and description of Ty fits Aaron, and I think that's maybe why they were so close. They were very similar in their personalities. Of course, they played different positions, but as far as who they were as people, there's a lot of common ground there."
On the message to the team getting ready for USC…

"The message is we've got to prepare and have a great week of practice, just like it takes to win any ballgame. You've got to do your work Monday through Friday, and that's our challenge. [We] had a terrific week of practice during the Washington State week. That was our best week of practice and preparation of the whole year. I think it showed, although we put the ball on the ground a bunch of times. For the most part, particularly on defense, it showed. Our guys know what it takes to win at this level. It's very challenging, and it's all-encompassing. You've got to do things right all week long: eat, sleep, hydrate, practice, lift, study film, there's so much to the process. They get that, they understand that. There really is no way around that, regardless of circumstances."
On how the team will pay tribute to Aaron…

"We're in the process of formulating and deciding what we're going to do with Aaron in his remembrance, just like we did with Ty. I think there'll be some common ground as well that both of them get celebrated in some ways. You won't see anyone wearing number 22 in this program again, at least as long as I am the head coach. We would like to see that retired permanently. That's our wish, and I think you'll see that happen."
On the situation at running back…

"TJ Pledger certainly had a terrific game [against Washington State] and put himself squarely in the conversation as a guy that is in position to possibly be the primary back. Micah Bernard was banged up in that game going in, you saw him have to leave the game and did not return. But when he's healthy, he's a terrific player. Tavion Thomas is still a guy that we think has a ton of upside, but we've got to get the ball security situation corrected. Chris Curry adds to what we're doing. We're still getting good production in the run game, it just seems to be a little different each week. But I can say that TJ certainly made a move, and whether or not Micah is ready to go this week, we'll have a bearing on that as well. At some point, we need to find out who Tavion Thomas is and what he can bring to the table. I know that's kind of vague, but that's what it is."
On reviewing USC's game vs. Colorado…

"They got a little more simplistic on defense than they have been in weeks past. They cut down on zone pressures, just stayed more basic and it was very successful for them. They did a nice job on defense. Offensively, [wide receiver Drake London] is as good as there is in the country, maybe the best in the country. He's certainly a weapon for them. Their quarterback, [Kedon] Slovis played well against Colorado. They ran the ball exceptionally well. Colorado was almost daring them to run the ball with some of their schemes and fronts. They did and they were successful. They've got a ton of talent like I said at the onset, and we'll have our work cut out for us. Our track record at the Coliseum hasn't been good. But that's history, and we're hoping that has no bearing on this year."